Category Archives: DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews

Blu-Ray Spotlight: Star Trek: Enterprise Season 2


Star Trek: Enterprise – The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray Disc August 20 from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution.

Synopsis:
STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE recounts the adventures of the pioneers of space travel who ventured into the universe 100 years before the events of Star Trek®: The Original Series. Set in the 22nd century, in a time when interstellar travel is still in its infancy, ENTERPRISE follows Captain Archer and his crew of brave explorers as they set out to chart the galaxy on a revolutionary spacecraft and experience the wonder and mystery of the final frontier as they seek out new life and new civilizations.

Review:
Picking up after the season 1 cliffhanger finale, “Shockwave, Part II” where Captain Archer is stuck hundreds of years in the future. My favorite stories from Enterprise involve time travel, the Temporal Cold War, and the beginnings of Section 31. And I was one of the theme song haters at first, but by this season I had come to appreciate “Where My Heart Will Take Me” as it just fit the theme of the show. It really had a great cast and great storylines, up until the arguable Xindi debacle. This season had some great episodes – first contact with alien races, “Carbon Creek”, and “Regeneration” (with the Borg). Unlike the other Star Trek series, this ship is full of inexperienced and optimistic crew members who are on the front lines of space exploration. Every experience is new and exciting for them. The addition of the featurettes makse this a must for any Enterprise fan. Brannon Braga hosts a fun, new cast reunion – “In Conversation: The First Crew” as the cast shares memories and stories from the set.

Disc One: Continue reading Blu-Ray Spotlight: Star Trek: Enterprise Season 2

Blu Ray Review: Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters

Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters Blu Ray

Synopsis:
The fabled siblings are all grown up and hell-bent on tracking and killing witches wherever they hide in the no-holds-barred epic of modern action and adventure HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS, taking flight on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD and On Demand June 11, 2013 from Paramount Home Media Distribution. HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS stars Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Thomas Mann, and Peter Stormare. Written and directed by Tommy Wirkola, the film earned more than $200 million at the global box office and a sequel is in development. The movie tells the story of the brother and sister team seeking to avenge their parents’ deaths. But after a lifetime of hunting witches, Hansel and Gretel now must face an evil greater than anything they’ve seen: a terrifying new threat so massive, it could destroy the world as we know it.

Review:
As the synopsis states, this is a grown-up Hansel & Gretel. Having killed the witch who tried to eat them as children, the siblings begin making witch-hunting their job traveling from town to town ridding the land of the dark evil with considerable skill and clever gadgets. This steampunk, adult fairy tale is as dark and gruesome as it is smart and funny. Think Van Helsing meets Underworld.

While the over-the-top violence was a bit much for my taste, it was rounded out by plenty of humor. And the though a bit predictable, the acting was solid. I especially loved Jeremy Renner’s understated performance, as well as Famke Janssen’s evil witch persona. This fun, action-packed adventure is packed with suspense, mystery, romance, and excitement. I like that the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a mindless action flick with entertaining characters and a fresh take on a well-known fairy tale.

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Includes:
Blu-ray:
• Feature film in high definition (Unrated version)
• Reinventing Hansel & Gretel
• The Witching Hours
• Meet Edward the Troll

DVD:
• Feature film in standard definition (Theatrical version)

Blu Ray Spotlight: Mad Max Trilogy

Mad Max Trilogy Blu Ray

Synopsis:
The three films – Mad Max (1979), Mad Max Road Warrior (1982) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) – are all set in the near-future in Australia. From the very first film, Oscar® winner George Miller (Happy Feet, 2006) proved a master at creating the gritty, bleak dystopian world and staging the incredible car stunts and crashes in the era when stuntmen, not computers, achieved the effects. All three movies starred Mel Gibson, virtually unknown until after the second film, as Max Rockatansky, a highway cop traveling through the Outback in a society descending into chaos. The films started Gibson on his road to international superstardom, led to his signature Lethal Weapon series, and later two Academy Awards® for his roles as producer and director of Braveheart (1995).

Mad Max:
A vengeful Australian policeman sets out to avenge his partner, his wife, and his son whom were murdered by a motorcycle gang in retaliation for the death of their leader.

Mad Max Road Warrior:
In the post-apocolyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline-rich, community escape a band of bandits.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome:
A former Australian policeman is rescued by a tribe of children when he is banished from a desert town and sent into the desert to die by the desert town’s evil queen.

The blu ray set is packaged in a collector’s tin with separate cover art. It’s a great addition to any classic scifi fan’s movie library. The films look great in HD, though I’m not sure the sound was remastered. The action and car chase scenes are loud and clear, but the dialog is hard to understand. And no, it’s not the Australian accents. Besides having to turn up/down the volume constantly, I really enjoyed revisiting these cult classic action films.

Blu-Ray Review: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and Digital Download 5/14

Synopsis:
From acclaimed filmmakers Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski, the powerful and inspiring epic drama “Cloud Atlas” explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future.

Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.

Review:
The film jumps around six different stories in six different time periods. In 1849, a dying lawyer discovers an escaped, stowaway slave in his cabin. In 1936, young composer gets the chance of a lifetime working with an aging, famous composer. In 1973, a journalist gets wrapped up in dangerous corporate espionage. In 2012, a publisher finds himself locked up in a nursing home against his will. In 2144 Korea, a clone restaurant server dreams of something more than her life as a slave. And in the far distant future, a tribesman deals with an inner demon while escorting a woman to the forbidden mountains. Eventually, the stories begin weaving together with the message that “Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” And the point is further pushed as the same actors play a variety of roles across each time period’s story. Most are easy to point out, despite the makeup. And in the end credits, each actor is shown in each role they had.

I haven’t read the book, so the story was new to me – other than the reviews from friends of mine. I had low expectations, hearing it was an over-done artsy film. But I was surprised by the power and drama of each story – moving and poignant. The acting was phenomenal. The music was enchanting. And the cinematography and special effects were stunning. The movie does drag at times though, and at almost three hours runtime became tiresome. Quite a bit could have been cut out and still had the same effect. While it’s a visually striking film, it was also emotionally draining. I don’t think that I would watch it again without skipping through a lot. But I’m glad I finally watched this epic fantasy. Most reviewers used the word “ambitious” when describing Cloud Atlas. I agree.

Blu-ray and DVD Elements:
Cloud Atlas Blu-ray Combo Pack contains the following special features:
• A Film Like No Other
• Everything is Connected
• The Impossible Adaptation
• The Essence of Acting
• Spaceships, Slaves and Sextets
• The Bold Science Fiction of Cloud Atlas
• Eternal Recurrence: Love, Life, and Longing in Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas Standard Definition DVD contains the following special features:
• A Film Like No Other

SciFi Blu Ray Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 and the Best of Both Worlds

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 and Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds

Synopsis:
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE THIRD SEASON is a 6-disc collection featuring all 26 episodes of the third season. Continuing to follow the remarkable voyages of the Starship Enterprise, the third season includes some of the most celebrated episodes in Star Trek canon.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS Blu-ray features a seamlessly edited, one-part, feature length presentation of the classic two-part cliffhanger. In this fan favorite episode, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is captured and assimilated by the Borg. Available in high-definition for the first time ever, a centerpiece to the release is a newly-produced featurette entitled “Regeneration: Engaging the Borg.” Offering fans an in-depth exploration into the creation of The Next Generation’s most iconic villains, along with the making of the episode, the exclusive featurette includes all-new interviews with the show’s production staff, visual effects artists, writers, and cast as they reveal the challenges faced in producing one of the most technically complex episodes of the series. Plus the set includes an exclusive gag reel and all-new commentary with technical consultants Mike and Denise Okuda, actor Elizabeth Dennehy and director Cliff Bole.

Review:
Star Trek: The Next Generation was my favorite television series from the time it aired. And season three had some of the best episodes such as: The Most Toys, Deja Q, Yesterday’s Enterprise, and The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1 to name just a few. By now, the crew has formed a noticeable camaraderie. This is science fiction at its finest with unique characters, exceptional stories, and great special effects for its time. I loved experiencing these adventures again, restored on blu ray. I received this season for review, but enjoyed so much that I had to go out and buy the previous seasons on blu ray as well. My favorite new addition was the featurette “Inside The Writer’s Room” moderated by Seth MacFarlane. And of course, I can’t get enough of gag reels.

Continue reading SciFi Blu Ray Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 and the Best of Both Worlds

Blu-ray Review: Star Trek: Enterprise Season One

Star Trek: Enterprise Season One Blu-ray

About the Show:
STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE recounts the adventures of the pioneers of space travel who ventured into the universe 100 years before James T. Kirk helmed the starship of the same name. Set in the 22nd century, ENTERPRISE takes place in an era when interstellar travel is still in its infancy. Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) has assembled a crew of brave explorers to chart the galaxy on a revolutionary spacecraft: Enterprise NX-01. As the first human beings to venture into deep space, these men and women will experience the wonder and mystery of the final frontier as they seek out new life and new civilizations.

Included in the Blu-Ray Set:
Disc 1:
“Broken Bow”
– Commentary
– Deleted Scenes
“Fight or Flight”
– Deleted Scenes
“Strange New World”
Special Features:
– In Conversation: Rick Berman and Brannon Braga
– Cast Introduction
– Network Presentation
– Syndication Presentation
– Archival Mission Logs:
– Creating Enterprise
– O Captain! My Captain! A Profile of Scott Bakula
– NX-01 File 02

Disc 2:
“Unexpected”
– Deleted Scene
“Terra Nova”
“The Andorian Incident”
– Text Commentary
“Breaking the Ice”
“Civilization”
Special Features:
– Archival Mission Logs:
– Cast Impressions: Season 1
– Enterprise Secrets

Disc 3:
Continue reading Blu-ray Review: Star Trek: Enterprise Season One

Blu-Ray Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

SYNOPSIS:
The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome Dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the Wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of 13 Dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild, through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs, as well as a mysterious and sinister figure known only as the Necromancer.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the Goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of ingenuity and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities…A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

REVIEW:
Martin Freeman (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) stars as Bilbo Baggins. He’s a reluctant hero with a good heart and extremely likeable. Sir Ian McKellen returns to his role as Gandalf the Grey – a younger Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Returning roles also include: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Ian Holm as Old Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; and Andy Serkis as Gollum. It’s a bit odd going back and doing a prequel story, making characters younger. But with the success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s not surprising that The Hobbit was picked up as well.

Nine years after the release of the Return of the King also means that the CGI and cinematography is even that much more fantastic. The rich landscapes are breathtaking. And the creature effects are incredibly impressive and life-like. In fact, my only complaint is that the novel The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien has been split into three movies. It felt like parts of this installment could have been skipped in order to fit everything in – and just made into a slightly longer film. But I’m sure the movie makers want the extra money that 3 films can bring instead of 1 or even 2.

This first installment in the Hobbit trilogy is a fun, thrilling, adventure. Full of humor, suspense, drama, and magic – fantasy fans will certainly enjoy. Since this is the first in the trilogy of films (and it’s based on only one novel) the film ends in an abrupt, awkward place. And the wait for the next installments seem painfully long.

BLU-RAY AND DVD ELEMENTS:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and DVD Special Edition contain the following special features:

Full Suite of Peter Jackson’s Production Videos. Enter Middle-earth of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as Academy Award-winning Director Peter Jackson takes you behind the scenes, on location and amidst the star-studded cast in a series of video journals that puts you in the forefront of latest in filmmaking with more than two hours of additional content. Highlights of the journals include:
o Start of Production
o Location Scouting
o Filming in 3D
o Post-production Overview
o Wellington World Premiere

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released on December 14, 2012, with the second film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, releasing December 13, 2013, and the third film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, slated for July 18, 2014.

Begin your Hobbit Collection by owning the first installment – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and 2-disc DVD Special Edition on 3/19

Blu-Ray Review: Grimm Season 1

Grimm: Season One (Blu-ray + UltraViolet)

Synopsis:
Homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) discovers he is descended from a long line of criminal profilers known as “Grimms,” protectors who are charged with keeping the balance between humanity and the creatures of myth. With newly awoken abilities to detect the evil lurking among us, Nick struggles to keep his old life separate and safe as he becomes ever more entrenched in the ancient rivalries of the Grimm world.

Review:
Nick and Hank (Russell Hornsby) may be the police detectives that investigate the strange reports in the area. But it’s Monroe (the local werewolf) that Nick runs to for help with the paranormal situations. Nick and Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) have a great chemistry. And Monroe’s smart humor adds a much-needed light-hearted feel to an otherwise dark and suspenseful setting. Bitsie Tulloch plays Nick’s girlfriend Juliette who knows nothing (until the end of the season) about Nick’s Grimm legacy.

This is one of my favorite shows on television. Each episode is a different Grimm fairy tale or myth with a modern day twist is always full of thrills, chills, and fantastic creatures. The mixture of mystery, suspense, horror and humor makes this a must-watch show. ABC’s aired its first season of the popular fairy tale series Once Upon a Time this past year as well. And though there are similarities, there is a decidedly different feel to Grimm. There is none of the corniness or fanciful magic of OUaT. This is dark and gritty, with a more realistic, modern twist to the familiar stories. While there is an overlying arc that flows throughout the season, another nice thing about the series is that you don’t necessarily have to watch each one in order. Each episode is a creature-(or fairy tale)-of-the-week with complex characters and exceptional writing. Don’t miss this series.

Specs:
Available on Blu-ray and DVD on August 7, 2012, this five-disc set includes all 22 episodes.
BLU-RAY BONUS FEATURES INCLUDE:
• Grimm Guide: An interactive book that provides insight into the various creatures featured in the show.
• 2 Grimm collector’s cards
BLU-RAY and DVD BONUS FEATURES INCLUDE:
• The World of Grimm: Get to know the characters and creatures that inhabit the world of “Grimm” and discover the inspiration behind the storylines.
• Making Monsters: Go behind the scenes with Andy Clement and Barney Burman as they take viewers through the special makeup effects design and application process. The talented team from Hive FX also shows fans how they give life to the monsters of “Grimm.”
• Deleted scenes
• Gag reel